Julie Harris Expected to Return to Chi in 2001 for Preem, Fossils

News   Julie Harris Expected to Return to Chi in 2001 for Preem, Fossils Stage legend Julie Harris, who starred in Victory Gardens Theater's staging of Claudia Allen's Winter in June 1999, will return to the Chicago resident company for the 2000-2001 world premiere of Allen's Fossils, the troupe announced.

Stage legend Julie Harris, who starred in Victory Gardens Theater's staging of Claudia Allen's Winter in June 1999, will return to the Chicago resident company for the 2000-2001 world premiere of Allen's Fossils, the troupe announced.

Artistic director Dennis Zacek, whose company is devoted to nurturing a stable of resident writers, announced a slate of plays for the new season, including the May 11-June 17, 2001, run of Fossils, which Harris said she "hopes" to tackle after a national tour of The Belle of Amherst.

In Fossils, Harris will play one of two retired schoolteachers who are resigned to their quiet vacations on the shores of Lake Michigan. With the Northern Lights ablaze and miles of shoreline to explore, the women surprise themselves and begin to share their lives "with candor, high spirits and schoolgirl pranks," according to the announcement. The play asks, "Is there an age limit on passion?"

Sandy Shinner will direct the world premiere. Harris, of course, is known for her stage roles in The Member of the Wedding, I Am a Camera, The Lark, The Belle of Amherst and the recent revival of The Gin Game.

Also on the Victory Gardens schedule: • Chicago playwright Douglas Post's newest murder mystery Blissfield (Sept. 15-Oct. 22).

• A new musical revue by Jamie O'Reilly and Michael Smith, starring Beau O'Reilly and Jenny Magnus, titled Hello Dali: From the Sublime to the Surreal (Nov. 10-Dec. 17).

The Action Against Sol Schumann by Jeffrey Sweet, author of Victory Gardens' recent smash hits Bluff and Flyovers (March 16-April 22, 2001).

• An African-American play (Jan. 19-Feb. 25) chosen from scripts "now under consideration from the most compelling African American writers in the country."

Victory Gardens Theater is located in the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood at 2257 N. Lincoln Avenue. Subscription packages are on sale now.

For information, call (773) 871-3000 to try the web site at http://www.victorygardens.org.

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A more detailed description of the season's works, provided by Victory Gardens, appears below.

• Victory Gardens' 2000-2001 season opener is Douglas Post's Blissfield. Post's newest murder mystery tells the story of Carter, a foreign correspondent stationed in Beirut, who returns to his midwest hometown for the funeral of his best friend, the town's mayor, who apparently took his own life. Or, was he murdered? Perhaps the mayor's progressive agenda for the town alienated certain members of this affluent community. And, if so, what does that say about Carter himself and this bucolic town he once called home? Post's Earth and Sky premiered at Victory Gardens in 1992 and has been praised by audiences and critics in London and across the U.S. His other Victory Gardens premieres include Murder in Green Meadows and Drowning Sorrows. Dennis Zacek or Sandy Shinner will direct. Previews begin Sept. 15. Press opening is Sept. 25. Blissfield runs through Oct. 22.

• Victory Gardens' second 2000-2001 production will be Hello Dali: From the Sublime to the Surreal, a new musical revue created by Jamie O'Reilly and Michael Smith starring Beau O'Reilly and Jenny Magnus. Hello Dali "may be the most playful show about art I've seen" raved the Chicago Reader after a recent showcase performance. Now fine-tuned for its Victory Gardens world premiere, Smith and O'Reilly's witty, poignant, and provocative multimedia revue of songs juxtaposes legends such as Picasso, Bob Dylan, Oscar Wilde, Van Gogh, Magritte and a myriad of other artists and musicians who share the exhilaration of creativity and the sacrifices of artistic life. Jamie and Beau O'Reilly, along with frequent collaborator Jenny Magnus, are widely recognized as leaders in Chicago's avant-garde theatre movement, and acclaimed Chicago folk artist Michael Smith's Michael, Margaret, Pat and Kate enjoyed a sold out, lengthy extended run at Victory Gardens in 1994. Paul Amandes will direct. Previews start Nov. 17. Press opening is Nov. 27. Hello Dali will run through Dec. 17.

• The fourth play is The Action Against Sol Schumann by Jeffrey Sweet. Sweet's Bluff, which opened earlier this season, was named "one of the best plays of 1999" by Richard Christiansen in the Chicago Tribune. Sweet's 1998 Jeff Award-winning Victory Gardens premiere Flyovers is scheduled to open in New York this fall. In his latest work, workshopped last fall at Victory Gardens with the support of the National Foundation of Jewish Culture, Aaron sees a sharp line between right and wrong. But his brother Michael isn't as sure. Then, one day, the U.S. government files shocking charges against their father, and their world is turned upside down. Dennis Zacek will direct. The Action Against Sol Schumann begins previews March 16, 2001. Press opening is March 26, 2001. It runs through April 22, 2001.

• For the fifth play, Julie Harris hopes to return to Victory Gardens to continue her collaboration with playwright Claudia Allen, starring in the world premiere of Fossils. Harris won raves last season for her performance opposite Mike Nussbaum in Allen's Winter, the theater's most successful production ever.

-- By Kenneth Jones